When entering ENVSN Festival, a euphoric feeling takes over your body. From the informative panels to the up-and-close networking opportunities, the festival creates a hopeful aesthetic spearheaded by groundbreaking women. Held at Industry City in Brooklyn, NY, this year, ENVSN featured workshops, activations, and performances that are all centered around evolving one’s future. And yes, while there is an infiltration of events that “uplift young women,” creators Sharifa Murdock and Laura Stylez have an on-going passion for moving the next generation.
Now transitioning into year three, Murdock and Stylez have already started planning for next year’s event. “Everyone’s exhausted but they want to start planning and talking about 2020 already,” said Murdock. And with the success of both of their careers, Murdock in fashion and Stylez in radio, they two have the resources to continue the success of their third ENVSN Festival.
ESSENCE got a chance to chat with the dynamic duo about the importance of mentorship, the early stages of ENVSN, and what’s to come. Read below.
ESSENCE: Where did the idea to create ENVSN Fest come from?
Laura: As we became more successful in our careers, we were always getting booked to do panels. We felt like there was nothing that was solely focused on young women and we would always say, “We’ve got to do something.” And literally one-night Sharifa called me and was like, “I got it.” She had an idea about what it was, but we were trying to fine-tune it. She told me, “I want you to be a part of it.”
ESSENCE: How did those initial conversations go?
Sharifa: The initial conversation I would say started when we were going to all of these festivals in 2017. And then we launched last year in 2018. So this is our second one. There are so many amazing women out there who can help all these young women, not just me and Laura. Let’s have panel discussions about it. Let’s have workshops about it. Let’s try to teach them something.
ESSENCE: By being a kick-start festival, how were you able to land all of these brand partnerships?
Sharifa: For me, it was us just using our connections. We were calling on friends. We were calling whoever we knew was in the industry and then we also hired a colleague named Jizelle who was really strong within the beauty industry.
Laura: What is beautiful about ENVSN Festival, is that it’s a collaborative effort. Even though I spearhead music, Jizelle does brand partnerships, and Sharifa is our chief, we all work on everything together. So it’s a learning process for all of us. What was special was we were really asking brands to not just throw us a check. We wanted them to really collaborate with us and create content and experiences. Like this year, we launched the Visionaire Award where we presented Briana Owens, founder of Spiked Spin, $5k to put into her business.
ESSENCE: How do you both manage your day job while creating ENVSN?
Laura: Sharifa has three or more trade shows that she does throughout the year, and none of it is like ENVSN Fest. ENVSN Fest is a whole other animal. I have my morning show and then I have my other hustles. So literally all of our time we put into it is definitely a passion. We’re continuously fine-tuning, planning, and molding everything we hope for.
ESSENCE: Who is ENVSN Festival for?
Sharifa: As I got older, someone gave me an opportunity and I vowed that I would give other younger girls opportunities. It’s really difficult being a brown girl and being able to get into certain spaces. So for me, once I became successful in the businesses that I had fed, I wanted to make sure that they had the same access and somehow was able to get into those rooms. Mentorship is very important to me.
For more information on ENVSN Festival click here.